Bush, Maliki Sign Pact on Iraq's Future
President Bush reached a deal yesterday that is intended to lead to a more normalized, long-term relationship between the United States and Iraq by the time he leaves office, but it left unsettled the question of how many and how long U.S. forces would remain.
In the 2000 election, I was so unimpressed with the two main menu selections that I wound up doing a write-in vote. I can't even remember right now who I voted for, but I did it as a protest vote. (Oh, how I would love to have that one back. Such is the pain of hindsight.) It would be too easy to register yet another protest vote next year in the same fashion, but if 2000 taught me anything it was that just voting, in and of itself, doesn't absolve you of responsibility for where the country goes next.
So what to do? It seems like selling out, but the more rational part of me is whispering that if I can't have my desires on Iraq delivered by anyone in the running, perhaps it's time to suck it up, give up on that issue, and analyze the candidates on how they would perform on the rest of my interests and just pick the one who comes closest. I know it's the adult thing to do, but in nearly half a century of hanging around, I've often been spectacularly unsuccessful in picking the adult choice.
I tend to be a fiscal conservative, but considerably more liberal on some social issues. It's hard for people with this point of view to find a good candidate when you're offered only partisans from the two major parties. Rudy held some attraction for me, and as a New Yorker I have some acceptably fond memories of him. But Ron has done a rather effective job of putting many disturbing aspects of Giuliani on display here and casting light on some rather creepy skeletons in his closet. Thompson and Huckabee are out of the question due to their regressive social values. Mitt Romney has a few good points and a few disturbing ones as well.
On paper, Hillary Clinton shares a number of my stands as near as anyone can tell. The problem is, I have a hard time believing that even she knows what she stands for. And my experiences with her here in New York have left a bitter enough taste in my mouth that I will probably need somebody standing behind me with a knife to my back in order to pull a lever on her behalf. Obama actually seems to shape up well on quite a few issues, but his lack of experience and the naive nature of many of his policy statements worry me quite a bit. I don't know what to make of John Edwards. One day he seems fine, the next he seems to be from another planet.
The only third party candidates who may enter the race next year with the ability to attract any significant national vote count would be Nader and Michael Bloomburg. Nader is a kook and I still feel he dealt us an awful blow in 2000. I might give Bloomburg another look, but I'd have to hear a lot more before I could sign on for that third party bid.
I feel terribly cheesy if I just try to decide that one party's platform is better than the other and default to their candidate on that basis. I'd rather vote for the person than the party. I suppose, at least for now, that I will have to ride it out and wait to see who the two main candidates are. I'll get back to you if any sudden flashes of inspiration strike.